Prisons a prison is a state or federal confinement facility that has custodial authority over adults sentenced to confinement
- A prison is a state or federal confinement facility that has custodial authority over adults sentenced to confinement.
- The use of prisons as a place to serve punishment is a relatively new way to handle offenders.
- Were often cruel and torturous: Generally fit the doctrine of lex talionis:
- Law of retaliation
- “An eye for an eye”
- Early forms of punishment included:
- Public humiliation
The Emergence of Prisons
- It is unknown when the first prison was established.
- Punitive imprisonment noted in Europe in the Middle Ages.
- American prisons began in the late 1700s.
- Early confinement facilities stressed reformation over punishment.
Stages of Prison Development in the United States
- FIGURE 13–1 Stages of prison development in the United States.
The Penitentiary Era
- Philadelphia Penitentiary begun by Quakers for humane treatment of offenders.
- Rehabilitation through penance (solitary confinement and Bible study).
- Known as the “Pennsylvania System.”
The Mass Prison Era
- Auburn Prison (New York) featured group workshops and silence enforced by whipping and hard labor.
- This Auburn system was the primary competitor to the Pennsylvania system.
The Reformatory Era
- The reformatory style was based on the use of the indeterminate sentence.
- Elmira Reformatory attempted reform rather than punishment.
- Used a system of graded stages
- Gave way to the system of “parole.”
- Ultimately considered a failure, since recidivism was still a problem.
- Prisoners used for cheap labor in the era of the industrial prison.
- Six systems of inmate labor: contract system, piece-price system, lease system, public account system, state-use system, and public works system.
- Labor unions complained that they could not compete.
- The passage of the Hawes-Cooper Act and Ashurst-Sumners Act limited inmate labor.
The Punitive Era
- Characterized by belief that prisoners owed a debt to society.
- Custody and institutional security the central values.
- Few innovations.
- Medical model suggested inmates were sick and needed treatment.
- Most treatments include individual or group therapy.
- Other forms of therapy include:
- Behavior therapy
- Sensory deprivation
- Aversion therapy
The Community-Based Era
- Based on premise that rehabilitation cannot occur in isolation from the real world.
- Prisons considered dehumanizing.
- Led to innovations in the use of volunteers and the extension of inmate privileges.
- Programs include:
- Half-way houses
The Warehousing Era
- Public and judicial disapproval of release programs and recidivism led to longer sentences with fewer releases.
- Nothing works doctrine
- Warehousing of serious offenders designed to protect society.
- Prison overcrowding became widespread.
- Greater emphasis on incarcerating non-violent drug offenders.
The Just Deserts Era
- Based on the justice model.
- Emphasis on individual responsibility and punishment.
- Imprisonment is a proper consequence of criminal and irresponsible behavior.
- Chain gangs, “three-strikes,” and reduced parole.
Prisons Today: Race
- The rate of imprisonment for African American males is seven times that of white males.
- Bureau of Justice Statistics states that a black male in America has a 32.3% lifetime chance of going to prison; white males have a 5.9% chance.
Prisons Today: State Usage
- Use of imprisonment varies considerably between states.
- Factors contributing to the variation:
- Violent crime rate
- Political environment
- Funding for prisons
- Employment rate
- Percentage of African American males
- Level of welfare support
Prisons Today: Facility Size
- The size of prisons vary.
- One out of every four prisons is a large, maximum-security prison house almost 1,000 inmates.
- The typical state prison is small.
- It costs about $62 a day per inmate.
Prisons Today: Typical System
- The typical state prison system has:
- 1 high security
- 1 or more medium security
- 1 for adult women
- 1 or 2 for young adults
- 1 or two specialized mental hospital-type security prisons
- 1 or more open-type institutions
- Overcrowding is a serious issue.
- Prison capacity—The size of the correctional population an institution can effectively hold. There are three types of prison capacity:
- Rhodes v. Chapman (1981)—Overcrowding is not by itself cruel and unusual punishment.
U. S. Prison Population, 1960 - 2008
- Selective incapacitation:
- Is a strategy to reduce prison population.
- Seeks to identify the most dangerous offenders and remove them from society.
- Is reflected by career offender statutes.
Security Levels in State Prison Systems
- There are three security levels:
- The typical American prison is medium or minimum custody.
- Most maximum security institutions tend to be massive old buildings with a large inmate population, including all death row inmates.
- They provide a high level of security with:
- High fences/walls of concrete
- Several barriers between living area
- Secure cells
- Armed guards
- Gun towers
- Medium security prisons are similar in design to maximum security facilities; however, they:
- Usually have more windows.
- Tend to have barbed wire fences instead of large stone walls.
- Sometimes use dormitory style housing.
- Medium security prisons allow prisoners more freedom, such as:
- Associating with other prisoners
- Going to the prison yard or exercise room
- Visiting the library
- Showering and using bathroom facilities with less supervision
- An important security tool is the count.
- In minimum security prisons:
- Housing tends to be dormitory style.
- Prisoners usually have freedom of movement within the facility.
- Work is done under general supervision only.
- Guards are unarmed, and gun towers do not exist.
- Fences, if they exist, are low and sometimes unlocked.
- “Counts” are usually not taken.
- Prisoners are sometimes allowed to wear their own clothes.
Prison Classification System
- Classification systems determine which custody level to assign an inmate to. Assignments are based on:
- Offense history
- Assessed dangerousness
- Perceived risk of escape
- Other factors
- Inmates may move among the security levels depending on their behavior.
- Internal classification systems determine placement and program assignment within an institution.
Federal Prison System
- 1895—Leavenworth, Kansas—First non military federal prison opens.
- 1906—Second federal prison opens in Atlanta.
- 1927—Alderson, West Virginia—First federal prison for women.
- 1933—Springfield, Missouri—Medical Center for federal prisoners.
- 1934—Alcatraz begins operations.
Today’s Federal Prison System
- Today’s federal prison system consists of:
- 103 institutions
- 6 regional offices
- The Central office (headquarters)
- 2 staff training centers
- 28 community corrections offices
Federal BOP Facilities, 2009
- FIGURE 13–3 Federal Bureau of Prison facilities by region, 2009.
Federal Prison System
- The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) classifies its institutions according to five security levels.
- Administrative maximum (ADMAX)
- High security (U.S. penitentiaries)
- Medium security (federal correctional institutions)
- Low security (federal correctional institutions)
- Minimum security (federal prison camps)
- Additionally, there are administrative facilities, like metropolitan detention centers (MDCs) and medical centers for federal prisoners (MDFPs).
- Federal correctional facilities exist either as single institutions or as federal correctional complexes (FCCs)—sites consisting of more than one type of correctional institution.
- Example: FCC at Allenwood, PA. (consists of one U.S. penitentiary and two federal correctional institutions (one low and one medium security).
Federal Prison System: Administrative Facilities
- The federal prison system’s administrative facilities are institutions with special missions.
- Metropolitan Detention Centers (MDCs)
- Generally located in large cities, close to federal courthouses
- Hold inmates awaiting trial (like jails)
- Medical Centers for Federal Prisoners (MCFP)
Administrative Maximum (ADMAX)
- In 1995, the federal government opened its only ADMAX prison:
- Located in Florence, Colorado
- $60 million ultra-high security
- 575 bed capacity
- Inmates confined to cells 23 hours per day
- Only toughest 1% of federal prison population is confined there
- Holds mob bosses, spies, terrorists, escape artists, murderers, etc.
- Improvements to our nations prisons can be found in:
- Accreditation by the American Correctional Association’s (ACA)
- Training though the National Academy of Corrections
- Jails—Locally operated, short-term confinement facilities.
- Original purpose—confinement of suspects following arrest and awaiting trial.
- Current use—confinement of those convicted of misdemeanors and some felonies, as well as holding suspects following arrest and awaiting trial.
- There are 3,365 jails in the U.S.
- Most jails are small, designed to hold 50 or fewer inmates.
- Some jails are very big, like “mega-jails” in LA and NYC.
- There are 207,600 correctional officers.
- The average cost to jail a person for a year is $14,500.
- Most people process through jails are members of minority groups:
- 56% minority
- 38.6% African American
- 15.6% Hispanic
- 44% Caucasian
- Typical charges:
- 12.1% drug trafficking
- 11.7% assault
- 10.8% drug possession
- 7% larceny
Women and Jail
- Women comprise 12.9% of the jail population.
- They’re the largest growth group nationwide.
- Women face a number of special problems, including:
- Inadequate classification systems
- Lack of separate housing
- Low educational levels
- Substance abuse
- Inadequate substantive medical programs
Women and Jail
- Women make up 22% of correctional officer force in jails.
- Female officers are committed to their careers and tend to be positively valued by male counterparts. However,
- A disproportionate number of female personnel held lower ranking jobs.
- 60% of support staff is female
- 10% of chief administrators is female
- Issues can arise when member of the opposite sex are assigned to watch over inmates.
Growth of Jails
- Many jails are old and overcrowded.
- By the end of 1980s, many jails were so overcrowded that court-ordered caps forced some early releases.
- By 2006, national jail occupancy was at 94% rated capacity. Larger jails are more crowded than smaller ones. Some individual facilities are desperately overcrowded.
Direct Supervision Jails
- A new jail architecture and management strategy is called direct supervision. These jails:
- Use a system of pods or modular self-contained housing areas
- Have a more open environment, using Plexiglas instead of thick walls to separate areas
- Use softer furniture
- May use “rooms” instead of cells
Benefits of Direct Supervision Jails
- Direct supervision jails
- Reduce inmate dissatisfaction
- Deter rape and violence
- Decrease suicide and escape attempts
- Eliminate barriers to staff-inmate interaction
- Give staff greater control
- Improve staff morale
- Reduce lawsuits
Jails and the Future
- National efforts are underway to improve quality of jail life by:
- A private prison is a correctional institution operated by a private firm on behalf of the government.
- The movement toward greater use of private prisons began in the 1980s.
- Private prisons operate in 34 stated and the District of Columbia.
- 35% annual growth rate
Benefits of Privatization
- Private prisons can:
- Reduce overcrowding
- Lower operating expenses
- Avoid lawsuits
Hurdles to Large-Scale Privatization
- Large scale privatization is hindered by:
- Laws prohibiting private sector involvement in correctional management
- Possibility of public employees striking
- Liability and other legal issues
- The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) recommends that those states that privatize corrections:
- Regularly survey former inmates about conditions
- Annually visit and inspect facilities
- Station state monitors inside large facilities
- Review all services before renewing contracts
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